March 8, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope your new year started off on a great note. I know mine did and with your partnership, I hope to continue that throughout 2010 and beyond.

There are many things happening within Telarus. More carriers are coming onboard and the pricing for circuits, including T1’s, bonded T1’s, DS3, Ethernet and more continue to improve and get more accurate all the time. As a “veteran” with Telarus, I am familiar enough with our carriers to know, pretty much, WHO can offer WHAT in WHICH locations, and so if I don’t see those carriers showing in realtime in GeoQuote, I do not hesitate to go directly to the carrier senior channel managers to get the pricing required for our customers.

At the same time, it is always exciting since there are very few days that go by where I don’t learn something new. So you’d think that with more than six years full time with Telarus I would be a walking fount of knowledge? Not quite but getting closer every day. 🙂

As we start the new year off, I wanted to mention to you that you really should plan to attend the marketing calls which are moderated by Patrick Oborn, the CIO (Chief INNOVATION Officer) of Telarus. If you don’t know Patrick or have never heard him speak, you are missing out big time. Patrick has the equivalent of a PHD in search engines and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and holds these trainings periodically to help you understand what you need to do with your web sites in order to get more of the type of traffic that you want … in other words, the kind that can result in a SALE that puts money in your pockets.

Please try to make time to attend the next marketing training call, which has been postponed until April to allow Patrick and the Telarus folks to wind down a bit after the Channel Partners show in Las Vegas last week.

I would also encourage you to think BEYOND just T1 lines. There are much bigger circuits being installed out there, and if you are focused only on “T1”, you’re missing a potentially much bigger piece of the pie. MPLS and Ethernet options are going like gangbusters, and are much more cost effective on a “cost per MB” basis than their point-to-point and T1/bonded T1/DS3 equivalents, respectively.

It will definitely and clearly be worth your time and effort to attend, as well as having the expert right there to answer questions. How do you get more of the type of traffic you want to get? How and where to advertise? What kind of links should you be looking for and getting? How can you target the BIGGER circuits like Ethernet and OC-x? If you are serious about taking your marketing and your business to the next level, you will definitely want to be there for this and future trainings.

If you are going fishing, wouldn’t you agree that your best fishing trips result from knowing what kind of fish are biting on which type of bait? Get involved with these marketing calls and find out what kind of spider food (for the Google site spiders) is best. Many of you are fishing with styrofoam lures, resulting in your net being full of carp, not a real intelligent fish, obviously. Start fishing with bait that can make the mouths of the Google spiders water in anticipation, and start seeing the results that come from using the right bait.

Las Vegas Channel Partners Show

Speaking of the Channel Partners show put on by the National Telecom Association in Las Vegas last week, a good time was of course had by all. The prior weekend were very full days of Telarus meetings and trainings, specifically by Nuvox (now Windstream) and Qwest on some of their very aggressive higher end product offerings. Telarus was of course well represented by the large number of agents and closers that also attended … on our own nickel by the way, although between carriers wanting to take us to lunch, dinner and breakfast, I think very few of us had to pay for a meal. 🙂 Telarus once again won the Platinum Partner award from AT&T as well as awards from several other carriers.

On the personal front, I won two awards — for the third or fourth consecutive time, I won the Telarus Presidents Club award, and also one that I was not expecting — the Qwest “Partner Of The Year” award, presented to me by Qwest senior management. See below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course I was very proud and pleased to have received these awards. I really do not pay a lot of attention to where I stand with awards and ratings and such — the thought process I use is to recommend and do what is in the best interests of the customer, and over time, these things will fall into place. But it sure is nice to be recognized for the time and effort that I put into this, both for my own benefit as well as for your benefit for your leads and customers.

Something else that was announced at the Channel Partners show and demonstrated almost continuously in the Telarus booth in the exhibit hall is CarrierQuoteShop.com; i.e.:

 

You may see this in your Internet travels so I wanted to spend a bit of time letting you know what it is. This is designed for independent carrier agents that exist across the country, and indeed, across the world. An independent master agent who already has carrier agreements in place can use this tool to generate quotes but ONLY for the carriers that he already has agreements with, and the carriers need to verify this. In other words, if Joe Agent has carrier agreements with AT&T and Qwest, then Joe will ONLY see AT&T and Qwest quotes appear when he signs in and runs this, and he will NOT see quotes from the other 28 or so carriers that Telarus represents.

One of the huge goals that this is intended to achieve is to make GeoQuote the “de facto standard” for getting carrier quotes in real time. There are other platforms out there that attempt (most unsuccessfully) to mimic the accuracy and user friendliness of GeoQuote, but they have literally decades of development time in front of them to even get close to where GeoQuote is today. Agents using this system will essentially ONLY see the prices — they will NOT have access to the proposal generation tool, the task manager, the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) module, etc, ONLY the quotes.

At the end of the day, this is an advantage to both you and me as GeoQuote evolves to be the de facto standard for generating carrier quotes, with one of the major benefits being more and more carriers wanting to become a part of this system since “everybody” will be using it! But I have the advantage here for YOUR benefit because I have access to ALL the modules and features of GeoQuote, and YOU have the additional advantage (SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO EXERCISE IT!!!) of having access to the marketing calls to understand how to effectively market your site(s) online.

One Minor But Possibly Significant Change

One change I wanted to make you aware of. It should not be a problem for you, but in fairness to you, I wanted to make you aware of it as well as get your feedback on my decision. Some of you generate a ghastly number of RESIDENTIAL leads. I mean, a truly outrageous number, like more than HALF of all leads that are generated from your sites. One of the problems with residential leads if I do not recognize them as such if I call them, is that they rarely even know what a T1 line is, and clearly have a “telecom IQ” lower than the freezing point of water.

To a point, I cannot blame the non-technical housewife in Podunk Idaho who cannot get DSL to her house to have generated a T1 lead or even a Business DSL lead from your web site. Somebody who is not in the telecommunications industry cannot be expected to know that a T1 is out of the question for 99.99% of the residential leads, any more than I would be expected to intuitively know the reaction temperature in nuclear fission off the top of my head. That’s not my ballywick, and by the same token, telecommunications “realities” are not her ballywick either.

One of the things that the system does when I flag a lead as”residential” is to send them an automatic email directing them to your ShopForDSL site. Part of the problem here is that to allow this to happen, I had to do something with that lead, even though it was only a few clicks, but I get nothing out of it. We’re talking zip, zero, nada, zilch, even if it results in a residential DSL sale at your ShopForDSL site.

That does not necessarily bother me, but given a “loophole” it seems inevitable that there will be some who take advantage of it. I strongly suspect (although cannot PROVE) that some agents are using the ranking power of GeoQuote to market to residential leads, and via the mechanism that is already in place, to allow GeoQuote to essentially perform their marketing efforts for them on autopilot with zero intervention or manual effort required on their part. It is unfortunate that a few bad apples ruin the whole barrel and I know the majority of you do not take advantage of this “loophole” but I needed to do something about it.

So the change that I have implemented is that if I see a residential lead come in, I will send them the standard “intro email” which allows them to contact me if there really were serious about a T1 (heaven forbid DSL … gag, spew, hurl…), since then they will have my email, my toll free number and my cell phone number, as well as having a good understanding of what we do. But after that, I am not putting any more leads into the “residential” folder. Instead, I am putting them in the JUNK folder, meaning that auto-generated email that GeoQuote would send to a residential lead which would direct them to your ShopForDSL site DOES NOT GET SENT.

If you are genuinely interested in offering cable or DSL (barf, gag, spew….) to residential customers, you can still do so, but you will need to be watching over your JUNK folder and contact them yourself. The benefit to you is that you now know who you are marketing to and not relying on GeoQuote to do your marketing for you, where GeoQuote was not designed to market to residential customers. The other benefit to you is that by looking through your JUNK folder occasionally, you may be surprised to find out exactly how many trash leads are there, which were generated by YOUR sites, which might be an additional clue that you may need to change some of your marketing approaches and techniques.

I realize that this may not be the most popular decision for many, but it is part of my TIME MANAGEMENT process so that I can spend more time, concentrate and focus on the REAL customers that GeoQuote was intended to target. I am more than willing to consider alternative opinions, even though I have written volumes about how marketing DSL, either to business or residential customers, is not worth either my time or yours. So bring it on….. 🙂

Summary

I hope these newsletters are helpful to you, giving you ideas, generating some brain juice, or perhaps just providing a necessary kick in the pants. Maybe you are already more than happy with your level of income and getting more just means more headaches for you with your tax return and the IRS, in which case I salute and envy you. I know that I have not gotten a lead from many of you in more than a year, and also know that a few dozen of you will not even receive this since your email bounces every time I send an email.

There is a saying that I learned at the airport when I go out flying that says: “Never let your airplane get somewhere that your brain didn’t get to about 5 minutes earlier“. The words of wisdom there are that your brain needs to be at least 5 minutes ahead of the plane, and you need to be fully aware (“situational awareness”) of where you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there, having a viable and workable plan already in place. Waiting until you actually get there to figure it out is your worst possible option because you may actually be headed in the wrong direction, or when you DO get there, you are going to have other duties to contend with that you need to be prepared for.

The same is true of your marketing efforts. You need to be every bit as aware of where you want to get to as well as how you are going to get there. “More money” is not a sufficient direction, any more than “up” is sufficient when I am flying. Simply submitting your web site to the search engines is not sufficient to get you where you presumably want to go, especially since you are then competing with a SEVEN FIGURE number of people taking that same very lax approach.

I appreciate you and your efforts and look forward to continuing to work with those of you who are as serious about this as I am, so that we can both reach our goals. I appreciate your leads and your efforts with Telarus, and you need to know that I do take leads very seriously, since without QUALITY leads, neither of us make money.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. My best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving!

God bless,

Jon Arnold
Telarus Senior Technical Consultant & Authorized Sales Agent
President, JA Communications Group Inc.
Office: 321-779-5238
Mobile: 321-223-5238